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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Youngster overcomes fear to show steer

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Nine-year-old Dillon Van Arsdale dries his steer Rex Thursday morning. [Click to enlarge]
Dillon Van Arsdale's parents couldn't have been more surprised.

For years, the 9-year-old had expressed a slight fear when being around larger animals.

But the fourth-grade Clay City Elementary student had a goal heading into the 2008 4-H season. He wanted to show steers.

"He's always been real nervous around big animals," Dillon's mother Jamie Lowder said.

But that fear went away when Dillon started working with a Polled Hereford Steer he and his family purchased from family.

Dillon immediately named the steer Tyrannosaurus Rex and calls the animal Rex for short.

"That was the first name that popped in my head," Dillon said as he prepared to show his steer at the Clay City Fair Thursday.

Dillon started working with Rex in December and had to learn quite a bit. This is his first year competing in 4-H. The Clever Clover member also plans to show his steer at the Clay County 4-H Fair in July.

"I used to be afraid of him because he was bigger," Dillon said.

But that slight fear slipped away quickly.

"Sometimes, when he's laying down, I can lay against him," Dillon added.

Dillon had never worked with animals before and had to learn quickly how to deal with them and how to show them in contests.

He said he had difficult learning how to keep the steer's head up while walking with it.

"My arm just kept aching," Dillon said. "I'm trying to make sure he can do it himself."

Dillon said he also had to learn how to bathe the steer and air-dry it. He only had time to work with Rex after school and if he had his homework done.

"Every day I'm not busy, I've got to go and lead him around," Dillon said.

Dillon's great aunt, Elena Gerber, said first-time steer showers may have some difficulty. However, the 9-year-old comes from a family that has a rich tradition showing steer.

"You work with them every day," Elena said. "And he's taken after his cousins."

Gerber said first-time showers have to learn how to clean a steer and learn how to make sure the steer is standing straight with its legs in a square shape.

"It takes four or five months to train," she said. "You want to know your animal."

"Dillon showed interest a little over a year ago," Jamie said regarding showing Rex. "It's kind of a family thing.

"He's had some tough times. It's been rough. But he's gotten a lot braver. It was just kind of a spur of the moment thing."

Dillon said regardless of how he finished at the show, he has enjoyed the experience.

"It's been really fun," he said. "It something that keeps me from playing video games."

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Way to go Dillon. Great story!

-- Posted by Matt Dillion on Fri, Jun 27, 2008, at 9:40 PM

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